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British Heritage: February 1997 Letters

Originally published by British Heritage magazine. Published Online: September 23, 1997 
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Dear Readers,

The next British Heritage magazine tour is called The World of Wessex (details in print edition). This transports you to places mentioned on our pages and is paced for discovery, with no gruelling coach rides along the motorway or early morning calls! In addition to handling travel details, our knowledgeable courier will share the culture and history of the places we'll explore, and also be on hand with suggestions, directions and solutions. We've left plenty of time for shopping, afternoon tea, or a pint in the local pub. But it is what's not on the itinerary that will make this adventure an extraordinary travel experience. We have deiberately left time for diversions and detours, for unexpected explorations along the road. I eagerly look forward to sharing this tour with some of you. If anyone has any suggestions for future tours, feel free to drop me a note with your ideas. In the meantime, all the best for a wonderful 1997!

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– G.H.

WHAT'S A 'SCHILTRON' ANYWAY?

In the article 'The Man Who Would Be Chief: Andrew Wallace' by Joy Ufford (October/November 1996, page 41), there is a word I'm unfamiliar with–'schiltron'. In fact, the Oxford English Dictionary is also unfamiliar with it. Could you, or she, kindly provide me with its meaning? I'm especially curious as my maiden name is Schilt. Schilt (a Swiss name) means a sign on a shield.

Mrs. Mary V. Geira, Jax, Florida

 

Editor's Note: A schiltron (sometimes spelled schiltrom or schiltroun) was a military formation consisting of a massed circle of spearmen. In many ways, it was a forerunner of the famous infantry square of the 18th and early 19th centuries, which was considered to be a nearly impregnable defense against a cavalry charge. Being circular, the schiltron had no flank that could be exploited by the fast-moving English cavalry. From whatever side the English approached, they could be met with a solid wall of spears, or pikes.

However, like the later infantry square, the schiltron's effectiveness against mounted knights was offset by its vulnerability to long-range fire. In the napoleonic wars, artillery could quickly decimate the crowded infantry squares. Wallace's schiltrons suffered the same fate at Stirling Bridge at the hands of English archers. But at Bannockburn, the terrain prevented the English from effectively deploying their archers against Robert Bruce's army, and the Scottish schiltrons won the day.

MAKING DO

The letter 'Wedding Feast' in the issue that I have just received (December/January 1996/1997 page 6), brought back pleasant memories of the six months that I spent in England, and the article on fish and chips (October/November 1996, page 20) was also enjoyable. I agree with the lady from Bolton–all the fish and chips I ate, and I ate a lot, had mushy peas as a side dish. However, you could also get curry, fried pineapple rings, as well as beef pasties and chicken pies. In my opinion, and my husband's, the haddock was best. Our favourite chippie was less than a block from our house, and there wasn't a week that went by that we didn't get take out at least once.

One other thing that I miss, when it comes to food, is Golden Syrup. Upon reading 'Best of British Food and Drink' (December/January 1996/1997, page 33) I found myself thinking about writing to Silver Spoon Creative Kitchen, in the hopes of finding a way to buy some here.

The problem all started when I came home and decided to make crepes for my grown daughter. When I told her we were going to be sprinkling sugar, lemon juice and syrup over very thin pancakes, she thought I had lost my mind, and when I couldn't get any Golden Syrup, she knew for sure that I didn't know what I was talking about.

However, Silver Spoon inadvertently saved the day for me, in the shape of a small Recipe Ideas booklet that I had sent off for right after moving to England. I was having difficulty converting my own recipes to English measurements, so I sent off for every little cookbook offered from all the products that I bought over there. I received a Be-Ro Flour Home Recipes booklet and Homepride Quick and Easy Yeast Recipes. McDougalls sent three delightful little booklets that really helped me with the flour over there, but most of all Silver Spoon sent one nice booklet that tells all about British sugar, and a small pamphlet called Baking Biscuits and Cookies.

After coming home, and wanting to make the crepes, I sat down and went through the Silver Spoon booklet and found descriptions for all of the sugar products they carried. It listed the ingredients, which helped me come up with a reasonable substitute. Golden Syrup is a blend of sugar, syrup, and caramel. I use light Karo Syrup and mix in some caramel flavoured sundae syrup. It passes quite well. I also substitute it when I make pecan pie for a nice difference, but I would love to get my hands on the real thing.

Mary English, San Angelo, Texas

 

BATTLE OF THE SEXES

I was so encouraged to read Ms. Laurenzi's letter in your December/January issue ('Three Men in a Boat', page 8), which included the name and address of Movies Unlimited, which stocks the video Three Men in a Boat. I myself have been searching for an old Peter Sellers film called Battle of the Sexes. The black and white 1950s film is about the hilarious shenanigans the heir to a Scottish woollen fabric manufacturer gets his company into when he hires an American female power executive to come to town and run things.

It is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen but sadly, it is out of print and Movies Unlimited was unable to help. Do any of your readers have any idea where I can find a copy. It was seen on Encore cable television about a year ago and I just can't believe it isn't available somewhere. Thank you in advance to any kind person out there who can help. I can be reached at 800-548-7011.

Ann Durham, Tacoma, Washington

HEADS OF STATE

I am searching for reproduction busts of Victoria and Albert, 3Ž4 life size. I have tried the Victoria and Albert Museum with no luck. Can you possibly help me find a source? Original antiques would probably be far too expensive.

Janet Burgess, Davenport, Iowa

 

GOLDEN OLDIES

I was delighted to see the review of the CD Beethoven: Folk Song Arrangements for Vocal Ensemble from Arabesque Recordings (December/January, page 58). I have an old Richard Dyer-Bennett LP titled Beethoven Scottish and Irish Songs, badly worn from many years of playing, and have long sought to replace it with a tape or CD. The old LPs in my collection were issued by two sources: Dyer-Bennett recordings and the Archive of Folk Music. I haven't been able to discover whether or not either company is still in business.

Fran Hopkins,, Lancaster, Pennsylvania

 

Editor's note: If anyone is able to help with any of the above queries, please let us know. We'll be glad to publish your advice in this department for the benefit of our readers.

OOPS!

In the Contributors Page of the current issue, you tell us that T. Bruce Tober is an ex-patriot. Surely not! I'll bet he's still a patriotic American, but an expatriate!

Daniel B. Hooven, Denville, New Jersey

 

Editor's note: We'll take the heat for that typo, although clearly, it seems, our spell-checker is at fault.

 

 


The British telephone numbers provided in British Heritage include an initial zero, which callers from North America do not need to dial when placing a call to Britain. North American callers should dial 011-44 in place of the initial zero. When travelling in Britain, dial the telephone numbers exactly as printed.Please note that all prices quoted in editorial material are correct to the best of our knowledge. We suggest readers call ahead before visiting stately homes, etc., to ensure they have up-to-date details.



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